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Dip Your Ears, No. 186 (Detmold’s Mahler Surprise)

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G.Mahler, Das Lied von der Erde
(Schoenberg/Riehn Chamber Version)
Alfredo Perl / Detmold CO / G.Romberger, S.Rügamer

Downsizing to Effect

I’m sure Detmold’s a nice city, but its reputation comes with overtones of dour, drab, and dismal: Some status-burden to overcome for its chamber orchestra! Add a conductor better unknown as a Beethoven-pianist (Alfredo Perl), and two singers of whom insiders might know Gerhild Romberger but probably not Stephan Rügamer. Further add some mighty competition in Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde—even in the chamber version—and you have a non-starter of a new release from MDG, unless you are one of the dozen people who specifically enjoy their (actually amazing) 2+2+2 three dimensional sound setup. Right? Not so! The orchestra, aided by an audiophile recording, sounds darkly rich, with woodwinds and double basses swaying and creaking like old trees. The strings add leathery tenaciousness and delicacy. Gerhild Romberger’s warm, smoky, reedy hue with warmth adds further grittiness, and Stephan Rügamer—still a little strained in “Das Trinklied”—sounds at ease in “Von der Jugend” and colorfully so in “Der Trunkene”.